It’s mid February and in just a few short weeks cabin fever dissipates as we all hit the water for what is arguably is considered across the nation “big bass time” !! You’ve had all winter to organize you tackle box, re-spooled your reels and even Mr. Bass is anxious to shake the ice off of his fins. What do you grab that first time you get out? We have told you in the past that lipless crankbaits were great for this time of year, but today we are talking jerkbaits.
Why a jerkbait? As Mr. Bass is shaking his winter blues, so is Mr. Shad. While the shad do this, they are not accustomed to the constant swimming motion seen throughout the summer months. The cold water makes them lethargic. During this time their movement patterns are erratic, swimming in a stop-and-go motion. Eventually, the cold weather starts to kill some of these shad off, and as they start to die the flutter, pause, flutter, pause, making them easy prey for Mr. Bass. No other bait resembles this pattern better than a jerkbait this time of year.
So which jerkbait do I choose? There are basically three types of jerkbaits; floaters, suspenders and sinkers. The preferred type for the early cold weather is the suspender. With the suspender, after you twitch, snap, and then pause these baits for a few seconds, the bait will suspend in the water column, allowing Mr. Bass an easy target, just as he would on the real deal shad.
Alright, so you know why and what, but there are so many different colors and styles, so which ones work best? While we will cover four of our favorites, the usual go to color, bar none, is the clown color. The XPS Laser Eye Jerkbait Clown (pictured on top) is an excellent choice to start your day with.
Our list of honorable mentions include the Gold Husky Jerk, the Chrome Black Rogue, and Chartreuse Shad by Lucky Craft. The key thing to consider with all of these, is that the water in the winter, is void of much of the algae that gives the shad a greener tint in the summer months. The colors in the baits above present a typical shad color in the late winter early spring pattern.
Using baitcasting or spinning (your preference), throw the bait out on a point or shore at the north end of the lake, because the north end warms faster than the southern end at this time of year. Start your retrieve with a series with a series of jerks, and then pause, the colder the water, the longer the pause, even up to 5 to 8 seconds in really cold temperatures. Repeat ! Repeat ! Repeat ! Often the bass will slam that bait on the pause, on the next jerk you will feel the load, set the hook !!! It is a good idea to watch your line on that pause as well, and be on the lookout for a twitch that you may not feel, and the set the hook on the slightest movement of your line.
Great places to consider on your water:
- North shore
- Points, especially those nearest a bending creek channel
- Flats – even the silty flats, as the silt can hold heat
- Rip Rap, rocks hold heat
- Any mix of these with a touch of cover (logs, brush piles, emerging weeds, etc.)
Finally, let’s talk about line. Monofilament or fluorocarbon lines are preferred, in 10 to 15 pound test. Note that the mono will keep your bait slightly higher in the water than fluorocarbon, as monofilament floats and fluorocarbon sinks. In gin clear water stick with fluorocarbon, it is much more invisible than the monofilament.